New-class Russian stealth corvette 20386 is being redesigned
Severnaya Verf, one of the main shipyards located near St. Petersburg, has begun to rework the Project 20386 corvette of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. This happens only two weeks after this ship was officially accepted into service on May 13. The ship is called Mercury and has hull number 535.
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Due to the rework that has begun, the ship will most likely be returned to the composition of the Black Sea Fleet next year. However, some sources in Russia say that his return may be delayed by another year, i.e. 2025 year.
According to publications in the Russian media, Severnaya Verf will redo the further development of innovative solutions implemented on this ship. The media did not specify what exactly will be redesigned, but quoted an unnamed source as saying “a redesign is necessary.”
Although no one has officially confirmed, there are several possible “innovative solutions” to be reworked. The Stealth technology is one of them. As already mentioned, these are the first fully stealth ships of the Russian Navy. There is a real possibility that this technology is not that well developed in naval engineering and will require a change.
Information in Russian media also confirms the thesis that this is the first completely stealth-built ship. Until now, Russia has used this technology in shipbuilding, but partially – for certain elements, not for the entire naval platform.
Another possibility is a redesign of Mercury’s radar network. It is known, according to the characteristics released by Moscow, that this ship has one main multi-purpose Zaslon radar and eight AESA radars. We know from the development of Russia’s first stealth fighter, the S-57, that the AESA radar was used for the first time in this aircraft. I.e. this technology is also new, both to the aerospace and naval forces.
Other possibilities that can be worked on are the encrypted communication between the carob and the combat aircraft of Russia, as well as the anti-aircraft missile guidance system. This system is also new and its main function is to simultaneously direct 16 anti-aircraft missiles of the 9K96.2 “Redut” system against various targets.
The eight AESA radars on Mercury are developed on the principle of active flat panel antennas operating in X and S bands. These radars, along with the Zaslon radar, are being integrated into a Russian warship for the first time, replacing the Furke-2 S-band radar with a passive rotating antenna.
There is a purely ‘PR or propaganda’ opportunity. I.e. – since the ship was built near St. Petersburg, but is part of the Black Sea Fleet, it cannot join it at the moment. The reason is clear – Turkey closed the Bosphorus. According to the Montreux agreement, Turkey can only open the Bosphorus to a warship returning to the main base of the fleet. But Mercury has never been to the Black Sea, and although, according to documents, it should be there, in reality, it has never taken part in sailing. Nowhere.
That is why it is not clear when the ship will be able to join the Black Sea Fleet. It is for this reason that it is assumed [or learned] that most likely the ship will join the Black Sea Fleet not in 2024, but in 2025.
It is entirely possible that if the war between Russia and Ukraine continues for much longer, the stealth corvette Mercury will be decommissioned from the Black Sea Fleet and commissioned into Russia’s Baltic Fleet. In this situation, it will be possible to use one for military missions, since it will not have to cross the Bosphorus.
Mercury is a Gremyashchiy class battleship. This is the newest class of warships of the Russian Navy. This class gave rise to the stealth design of Russian warships. The Gremyashchiy flagship with hull number 337 was officially commissioned in 2020 as part of the Russian Pacific Fleet.
The vessel Mercury  has a standard displacement of 1,800 tons and a full displacement of 2,200 tons. It is over 104 meters long. The power unit consists of a 380/220 V AC, 50 Hz, 4×630 kW diesel genset, and its propulsion consists of two shafts CODAD, 4 Kolomna 16D49 types of diesel 23,664 hp [17.6 MW]. The maximum speed at which the ship can sail is 27 knots.
The Gremyashchiy-class Mercury corvette is armed with one 100mm A-190 Arsenal or 130mm A-192 naval gun. Also on board is one Kashtan CIWS-M [Project 20380] as well as eight Kh-35 [SS-N-25] cruise missiles. The air defense consists of 12 launchers Redut VLS cells [Project 20381] and two AK-630M CIWS for low and close-flying targets.
The ship will counter submarines using eight 330mm torpedo tubes for Paket-NK. The ship has a helicopter pad, and the Ka-25 helicopter is specifically planned to be used. Mercury has an Orlan-10 drone launcher.
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